The 1962 Pennant Race
Updated: Oct 13, 2020
During their early years in San Francisco, the Giants had trouble gaining a strong following. Attendance was low mainly due to the poor location of Candlestick Park. They needed a good pennant race to rally the fans. They found what they were looking for in a 1962 pennant race with their long time rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Giants started the 1962 season hot with a 26-9 start. The Dodgers were a little slower with a 23-12 start. They were neck and neck at the 80th game of the year with the Dodgers 51-29 record compared to the Giants 52-28 record. From that game onward, the Giants started to slip in the standings, with the losing streaks lasting just a bit longer than earlier in the year. The Dodgers were the opposite with their winning streaks lasting just a bit longer than earlier in the year. The Dodgers could have won the pennant without the need for a playoff series but they were swept in a regular season ending series against the Saint Louis Cardinals. The Giants won two out of three against the Houston Colt .45's on the same days, making a three game playoff necessary with both teams finishing 101-61.
The first game was played at Candlestick Park with Sandy Koufax starting at pitcher. One of the greatest pitchers of all time couldn’t slow down the Giant’s offensive onslaught as San Francisco stormed to an 8-0 win. Willy Mays was magnificent, hitting two home runs and pitcher Billy Pierce kept the Dodgers offense stalled all day.
The second game was a legendary performance at Dodger Stadium. After building an early lead, the Dodgers scored seven runs in the sixth inning to go up 7-5. The Giants tied the game in the eighth inning but the Dodgers scored on a walk off sacrifice fly to tie the series.
The third game was another legendary performance in Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers built a 4-2 lead going into the ninth inning. Despite the adversity, the Giants refused to lose and came up with a phenomenal comeback at the top of the ninth inning.
It began with Matty Alou’s single, then Willie McCovey was walked but Ernie Bowman replaced McCovey as a pinch runner. Felipe Alou was walked which loaded the bases and in stepped Willie Mays who then hit a single which brought in Matty Alou making the score 4-3. The Dodgers were growing desperate and replaced their excellent reliever Roebuck with Stan Williams. That shift on the pitcher’s mound did little to slow the Giant offensive onslaught which was in its’ infancy. Orlando Cepeda hit a single to bring in Bowman and suddenly the game was tied. Jim Davenport was walked which brought Alou home and gave the Giants a 5-4 lead. Ron Perranoski took the mound in desperation to stop the leak. It didn’t do any good as Jose Pagan grounded to Larry Burright who made an error which gave Mays the opportunity to bring in the insurance run. Billy Pierce, the Game 1 starter, saved the game and the Giants won 6-4, breaking the hearts of the Dodgers and their new Los Angeles fan base.
The Giants reached the World Series where they would fall to the New York Yankees in seven games. Even though the Giants wouldn’t win their first World Series in San Francisco until 2010, their new city fell in love with the organization during their legendary series with the Dodgers.